Couple who claimed Roundup weedkiller caused their cancer awarded $2bn

The trials were the first of an estimated 13,000 lawsuits against Monsanto

A jury handed an unparalleled $2.055 billion verdict in favor of a couple in California who say their cancer was caused by long-term exposure to Monsanto's popular weed killer Roundup, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

It was the third consecutive USA jury verdict against the company in litigation over the chemical, which Bayer acquired as part of its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto a year ago.

It called the jury's decision "excessive and unjustifiable" adding that both Alva and Alberta Pilliod had histories of illnesses that were known risk factors for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014 and regularly spraying a high-concentration version of Roundup known as Ranger Pro as part of his job from 2012 to 2016.

"There appeared to be more detailed evidence damaging to Monsanto, which strengthens plaintiffs' cases down the pipeline even further", said Pavlik, who has followed the trials.

About 13,000 lawsuits against Roundup lawsuits are pending, according to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.

"The cloud hanging over Bayer will only grow bigger and darker, as more juries hear how Monsanto manipulated its own research, colluded with regulators and intimidated scientists to keep secret the cancer risks from glyphosate", said EWG President Ken Cook, in the news release. The damages award is likely to be reduced due to US Supreme Court rulings that limit the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to 9:1.

On Monday, a California jury concluded that Monsanto didn't warn customers about the health hazards of Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate. Appeals also are being filed in the two other cases, the Wall Street Journal reports in another article.

The company quickly responded saying it was "disappointed with the jury's decision and will appeal the verdict in this case". "We can't do the things we used to do and we really resent Monsanto for that", Alberta Pilliod said at a press conference following the verdict. They were also awarded $55 million in compensatory damages. While the award was reduced to $78 million on appeal, it opened the floodgates for thousands of similar cases, and there are more than 11,200 such lawsuits now pending against the German agrochemical conglomerate. Hundreds of other cases are pending in federal multidistrict litigation. The punitive damages awarded Monday are 36 times the actual damages. The German agro-chemicals and drugs giant finalized the acquisition of the U.S. company Monsanto previous year for $63 billion.

The stunning verdict came the same day that German chemical giant Bayer admitted that its subsidiary Monsanto could have kept lists of key figures - for or against pesticides - in European countries.

Chairman Werner Wenning told shareholders at Bayer's annual general meeting in Bonn last month that company leaders "very much regret" falls in its share price.

"We were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto's manipulation of science, the media and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup's severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind", he said in a statement. The verdict was announced after the trading session closed.

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